By Gary Murray

Starring Simon Pegg, Rosamund Pike and Toni Collette

Written by Maria von Heland, Tinker Lindsey and Peter Chelsom

Directed by Peter Chelsom       

Running time 114 min

MPAA Rating R

Selig Film Rating FULL PRICE


Simon Pegg and Nick Frost are comedy actors who have worked jointly in such films as Shawn of the Dead and Hot Fuzz.  They work perfectly together as the great comedy duos as Laurel & Hardy and Abbott & Costello.  But, unlike other duos, these two have been branching off and doing films without the other.  Pegg’s newest solo flick is Hector and the Search for Happiness. 

Hector is a therapist who is at a crossroads in his life.  He has a successful career and a beautiful long-term girlfriend Clara (Rosamund Pike).  But, he is not happy.  He listens to his clients go on and on about how depressed they are but Hector just draws pictures in his notebook.

Eventually, he snaps at his clients and decides he needs a break.  He decides to take a trip to find out what is the secret to happiness.  Hector will travel the planet in order to get the answer.  Clara does not understand but gives him permission to do what he needs to do (meaning having sex with another).  He keep hidden a picture from his youth, with two friends. 

His journey takes him to China where he meets up with a businessman who is on the same flight.  As Hector starts to write in his journal, he also strikes up a conversation with the man about what is happiness and what makes him happy.  The business finds Hector interesting and befriends him with a wild of fantastic food and wild life. 

The next morning, Hector treks to the mountains to meet with the monks.  As he tries to find the secret to happiness, he begins to realize that there are many different answers to the question.  The monks are more worried about getting the satellite fixed.

Eventually Hectors travels take him to Africa and his old friend, who works as a doctor in a hospital.  Through a series of misadventures, Hector is captured by some war lords.  He believes his days are numbered and his is terrified by his situation.

The last part of the adventure is his trip to LA.  There he meets with Agnes (Toni Collette), who is married with two kids and one on the way.  As Hector begins to sift the different elements of what is happiness, he discovers the oldest of truisms—happiness begins at home.     

I have been a fan of Simon Pegg from the very first moments of his film career.  Time after time, he has shown a range in both comedy and romance films.  He is also the kind of actor who will not shy away from a small part in a big motion picture.  In Hector, he proves that he can run the emotional bases while still being funny and tragic, sometimes within the same scene.  It is a brilliant performance, possibly the best of his career.      

Rosamund Pike is my favorite Bond Girl and one of the great un-sung actresses of her generation.  Between this role and Gone Girl, she should become a part of the A-List of working actresses.  No only is she stunningly beautiful, but she can play just about any role.  Seeing these two films in the same week shows how vast her talent is.

The film is directed and co-written by Peter Chelsom.  Most of his work has been in the romantic comedy genre with Serendipity and the remake of Shall We Dance.  This film is a bit of a departure in the simple fact that it is not a romantic comedy but a comedy about finding an elusive element.  As a quest film, Hector and the Search for Happiness is just as important quest as Lord of the Rings.

The idea of finding happiness in your own back yard is as old as The Wizard of Oz.  In many ways, this film feels like a classic Hollywood flick.  It is uplifting and positive, two adjectives that are seldom used in new motion pictures.  It is thoroughly enjoyable cinema experience that should not be missed.  

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